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"On Leadership"
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After twenty-eight years the American people have figured out that we need a president who is more intelligent than the vast majority of citizens. Since 1980 intelligence has been mocked and downgraded as a bad thing, elitist or snobbish, and somehow unAmerican. But now we're going to have a president who is very smart, sharp as can be, aware and informed.

It's not so much that the next president is a great orator, but rather that he can put English sentences together -- subject, verb, object -- one following another sensibly. We don't see that half-scared look which says, "I wonder what this next word I'm supposed to say really means. How long can I keep this up? How does this prompter-thing work? I liked the microphone strapped to my back. Will this smirk hide my inadequacy?"

In contrast President-elect Obama knows what he's talking about, and when he's finished talking, we know what he meant. We've watched him give monosyllabic answers to reporters' questions. "Yes." And even, "No!" What a change! What a relief!

The current acting president reached his position by being selected by a handful of oil magnates as their guy, their sock puppet. Those oil executives then foisted him onto the Republican Party, and then they stole two elections in a row. One of their ploys was to imply, and even state openly, that Gore, and then Kerry, were too smart to be president of us common [moderately dumb to extremely dumb] mere persons. "Nuance" was the word they loved to make fun of. But the real world is full of nuance, and one doesn't handle it well by mocking it.

In contrast, over a period of many months, Obama was selected by dozens, and then hundreds and then thousands and finally millions of ordinary people who wanted change, even drastic change. A large number of those millions were young, and not super-rich. This is something the American people can be proud of. His selection and subsequent election means that we are indeed a little better than we used to be. Slavery, Jim Crow, segregation north and south -- we will yet get past all that. The young are ahead of the old in this, and that's hopeful.

The current acting president cannot lead, and a huge majority of citizens now recognize the fact. It is irrelevant that he'd be fun to go out drinking with. I frankly doubt that anyway, since he's heavily into insults and pretense. Stating petulantly that he's the decider doesn't make him a leader and doesn't constitute leadership. He claims to be the war president, but displays no awareness at all of what war really is and how it affects human beings. He doesn't understand enough history or geography to be able to lead at all. How can a person who is AWOL lead? His handlers [those same oil guys] do what incompetent leading there has been. It is good to imagine how all that will change with a new administration.

We have been badly lacking in leadership for a long time. The predecessor of the acting president was intelligent enough, in some senses, but lacked a kind of common sense, and was not allowed to lead. He was constantly harassed and distracted by law suits and subpoenas that had to do with his wife's investments and his own sexual activities. The result was at best distracted leadership, and lots of disappointment. He threw his intelligence away, and many chances to use it were lost.

The first president named Bush could have been a leader, but was badly flawed. When he said he was "out of the loop," meaning lacking any awareness at all of Iran/contra, many of us found that utterly unbelievable. The U.S. sold missiles to the ayatollah of Iran, in spite of the embargo against it, and used the money to buy arms and supplies for the illegal Somocista rebels in Nicaragua, which Congress had forbidden specifically. They set up a special office right in the White House for Colonel North to direct the contra war. It is impossible to believe that the Vice-President didn't know what many of us knew. He could never be much of a leader, because he was such a liar.

The denigrating of intelligence and expertise goes back to Ronald Reagan, who play-acted as a kindly, folksy grandpa-type, but often displayed ignorance of what was really going on. He appointed non-experts to high positions in the government. Serious deregulation went into high gear with him supposedly in charge. Top levels of federal agencies, like the FDA, the EPA and the FCC, were taken over by persons who believed that government can't do anything right, that business can do whatever needs doing best and without government interference, that experts in their fields are unnecessary bureaucrats. The result of those beliefs and hands-off actions are now out in the open where we can all see and feel them. Lost jobs, lost pensions, lost homes -- where there is no leadership, the "invisible hand of the market" does not do well. The invisible hand isn't there at all, and thieves move in and steal.

Now there is hope that new leaders, and new and old experts, and new and old regulators, can together reverse this process. Let me congratulate and encourage our Leader-in-chief.

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Copyright © 2008 Harry Willson

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